Jesus: Savior or Symbol

This post is extremely long. Consider yourself warned, and skim through quotations if you want. Or just read the final section.Here I will reconcile three seemingly paradoxical points:I love the doctrine of Atonement.I have difficulty believing in it literally.My (dis)belief does not remove the power of the Atonement from my life. … [Read more...]

Hopeful Agnostic Sympathetic Mormon

I appreciated Chris H’s post and wanted to respond regarding the boundaries of Mormonism, the needs of individual and community, and especially the role of criticism within the Church. I hope to build on the deep respect that Chris and I have for each other and the positive tone of this site to foster a productive discussion.The Role of Criticism and Needs of the IndividualTo start with the most controversial of Chris’ points… the need to “shed the poisonous elements which claim to be part of … [Read more...]

The Blessings of an Unknown God

This post could be called anti-Areopagean, since in a reversal of the Acts 17 narrative, I write to those who inherited a supremely certain God and extol the virtues of a God unknown. I propose that agnostic theism actually results in a win-win situation, yielding rich rewards in return for handing over so-called certainty. I am not advocating that everyone adopt this philosophy, but I would like to lay out the advantages as I have experienced them.This approach not only takes seriously the … [Read more...]

The Problem of Santodicy

I love Christmas. I love the chance we have to celebrate our relationships and take the time to think of and give to those close to us. I could listen to Christmas music all year.I freely admit to not liking Santa, however. More precisely, I think the “Santalogical” problems far outweigh the excitement that children have as they wait for reindeer to alight on the roof and a fat mystical man to come through the chimney (or through the heating vents of my childhood, as I concluded he must do whe … [Read more...]

Conversion, Cultural Conditioning and (the Absence of) Compulsory Means

It is pretty great being a member of the LDS Church. We have a tightly-knit, caring community. We have satisfying, coherent theology. We have a strong organizational structure that provides us with opportunity to serve and grow. I know of no other institution that better fulfils the Divine purposes of transforming our natures and getting us to care for each other. The beliefs and practices of the LDS Church do an admirable job meeting the deep human needs and longings at the core of … [Read more...]

I'd like to bear my nuancimony…

I started thinking about writing this post last testimony meeting. I do still bear my testimony, and several people usually comment on it, though I think only my wife hears what I am really saying. But I wanted the chance to write out what I really believe, to express my nuanced testimony.Several factors motivated this post. As I stated, I rarely get the chance to lay out what I sincerely believe, and have never done so in writing. I appreciate the opportunity to get this out in the open … [Read more...]

The Hierarchy of Truth

Narratives wield a power measured not in historical accuracy but in effect on the reader. In many cases, the values expressed in a narrative, and especially the way that narrative moves us to thought and action, outranks the relationship of that narrative to history. In fiction, truths such as love, loyalty, following principles and defending freedoms shine even more clearly as they are unencumbered by the complexities of reality. But when we are reading Lord of the Rings, we know that we are … [Read more...]